Speculation Rife Over Multichoice's Relocation Of HQ To Dubai (UAE)
Speculation has been rife that pay-tv giant, Multichoice is contemplating moving its headquarters to Dubai, where many of its top management now reside and work.
However, the Pay-TV group has dismissed this industry speculation, describing itself in a statement online as a "broad-based multinational media and entertainment group headquartered in South Africa, Dubai, and the Netherlands". The rumours gained momentum after the company's CEO Calvo Mawela joined the Multichiice's chairman Imtiaz Patel in their Dubai office.
Other top MultiChoice executives currently based in Dubai include Yolisa Phahle (CEO of general entertainment and connected video) and Brand De Villiers (MultiChoice Africa CEO).
This relocation of many of the company's executive management can only mean that the MultiChoice Group's decisions are now being made in Dubai rather than its traditional headquarters in Randburg, South Africa.
According to Mybroaband, this decision to move the company's top executives to Dubai comes at an extra cost. The MultiChoice executives working and living in Dubai receive higher average salaries and lavish perks, including a housing allowance, schools fees, and many more.
"Mawela's base salary increased from $371,000 to $571,000 following his move to Dubai. His company benefits showed an even bigger jump – up from $46,000 to $227,000. Including short and medium-term incentives, Mawela's total pay package increased from $708,000 to $1,591,000 in a year – a jump of 125%," said Mybroadband
This higher pay in packages for the MultiChoice executives working in Dubai works well for them since they do not have to pay any income tax. However, it costs the group millions more in salaries and perks, which raises the question of why it would support this move.
In its latest annual report, MultiChoice highlighted that it made a total tax contribution of R12 billion over the last year.
Dubai has no corporate tax, which means that MultiChoice will potentially save billions in taxes with the right structure. As one of the largest taxpayers in Africa, Dubai offers MultiChoice and its executives a very attractive tax haven.
However, Multichoice has disputed this narrative in past statements, saying Mawela's move to Dubai was because his responsibilities included looking after MultiChoice South Africa and MultiChoice Africa. Being based in Dubai, MultiChoice said, enables Mawela to be closer to the MultiChoice Africa management team and have more accessible travel into the rest of Africa.
However, with the COVID-19 pandemic limiting international travel and most meetings taking place over video conferencing, one wonders if the statement remains true, as accessibility is no longer a reason to reside in Dubai.
According to Mybroadband, MultiChoice spokesperson Benedict Maaga says the move has helped Mawela to take more direct and greater responsibility for getting MultiChoice Africa back to profitability. "There are no MultiChoice South Africa executives that reside or work outside of the country, nor plans to relocate the business headquarters," he said.
Maaga failed to explain to the online platform why so many of their top executives are currently working out of Dubai instead of its Randburg headquarters.